Nurturing the Heart of a Child.
I'm Dr. Barbara Sorrels -  a mom, grandmother, child development specialist, and served as University Professor, Children's Pastor, teacher, and consultant.
When you understand some basics of child development, parenting becomes less mysterious and more wondrous.
As founder of the Institute for Childhood Education, we're helping parents, teachers, & child care facilities create nurturing environments.
Child development is amazing, and a glimpse into the mind of our Creator. I'm here to help you nurture your children, grandchildren, and the kids you care for. Read more →

Podcast #6: 

It’s time to discuss your questions!

Listen and subscribe in  iTunes  or  Stitcher

(You can also listen on your web browser  – click here)

Enjoy – and please share this post with your friends!

Krista and Dr. Barbara

New book for parents!

Nurturing Healthy Attachment: Building Parent-Child Connections to Last a Lifetime

Pre-Order paperback here

Pre-Order Kindle on Amazon


Podcast notes

Thank you for those of you who have taken the time to share what you are learning, liking, or having difficulty with. 

Anytime you have a question, feel free to email us at

Also, if you enjoy our podcast, would you subscribe on iTunes and leave us a rating and review?  It just takes a minute but means so much to us!  Thank you!

Question 1:

In episodes 3 and 4 we took a pretty firm stance against spanking.  For parents who are Christians, wanting to follow God and the Bible fully, how can you justify not spanking when there are verses that seem to condone it as an important part of discipline?


Question 2:

What if mom and dad are not on the same page with discipline?

  • We all think we know children and what it means to be a child based on our own experiences.  Was it the right kind of experience?  We have to do the deep work of reflection and look at our past and say do I really want to reproduce this pattern?  Understanding child development is taking time to understand God’s design.
  • Raising a child is the most awesome, heavy responsibility that is given to any parent.  Most men know more about football, their computers, or the engines of their cars than they do about children.  Most men spend a lot of time researching before a big purchase or making a big decision but spend very little time trying to know and understand children.
  • Understanding how God knit us together is the responsibility of every parent.  Not to accept this responsibility with a humble heart is an affront to God.
  • Let’s be practical- maybe your husband won’t listen to a 25 minute podcast, but perhaps he would read the notes on our blog.  

Question 3:

Do you still correct your child when their behavior is totally age-appropriate?  For example, if my one year old is taking toys from other kids, how do I respond to that action that is age appropriate but still ultimately undesirable?

Yes, you still respond. With one’s and two’s you use distraction. Most of the time they will respond to you handing them a different toy that is similar and you hand the toy back to the child that had it first.

If your child reacts and starts to throw a tantrum, pick him up, remove him from the scene say something like, “I know you really like to play with the _____” and draw his attention to something else–look out the window, walk to another part of the room and find something to do. If your child continues to protest there is probably something else playing into it as well–fatigue, hunger, overstimulation etc.

It is “normal” for one’s and two’s to take things from others…they begin to understand the concept of sharing and turn taking at around 3–and notice I said BEGIN to understand:)

It’s all about Instruction and correction.  Not every behavior needs a consequence!  Guide without anger.

Question 4: 

How do I respond when I see other mom friends holding their children to inappropriate expectations at playdates?

Your example will speak the loudest.  If you can speak up–do.  If not then just keep living it.

Here are some simple tools to start with:

  • Ignore the no and give two yeses.
  • Do overs.
  • Listen to the podcast!

Please feel free to send us any questions that arise after listening to our podcast.  Email us at 

Other resources: 



Order the new book, Nurturing Healthy Attachment!

Pre-Order paperback here

Pre-Order on Amazon Kindle

Podcast #5: 

This is my absolute favorite topic – because it can change your family!

Listen here:


OR – Listen and subscribe in  iTunes  or  Stitcher

Here’s our printable 1-page  Nurture Notes PDF:  Podcast #5 – Nurture Notes – Dr. Barbara Sorrels

Please enjoy – and share this post with your friends!

Krista and Dr. Barbara

New book for parents!

Nurturing Healthy Attachment: Building Parent-Child Connections to Last a Lifetime

Pre-Order paperback here

Pre-Order Kindle on Amazon


What is attachment?

The truth is that all parents are involved in establishing an attachment with their children. For example we can form a healthy attachment with our kids even if we don’t wear our babies.  

Attachment in the context of an adult and child relationship is a strong and enduring bond between a child and an adult who assumes responsibility for the well being of that child.  It is a relationship where a more mature other assumes responsibility for meeting the needs of the child in a warm, responsive and consistent manner.  It is a relationship where the child feels a sense of both physical and emotional safety in the presence of the adult, and has the confidence that that person will meet their needs in a kind and loving manner.

Why is a secure attachment relationship so important?

It’s in our very DNA. We are born looking for attachment.

  1.   Advances in neuroscience have discovered that the physical growth and development of the human brain is dependent upon the quality of the relationships and life experiences that we have in the early years of life.  
  • The actual number of dendrites or “connectors” in our brain is directly related to the quality of care that a child receives.  
  • In every interaction that we have with our child connections are being made in our child’s brain.
  • Parents are brain architects
  • The structure of a well-nurtured child’s brain is more complex than a child who is seriously neglected


  1.  Attachment relationships are the foundation of mental health.  
  • Children who enjoy a healthy attachment relationship with their parents are less likely to develop mental health issues later in life.  
  • Children with a healthy attachment to at least one consistently available, predictable, and warmly responsive caregiver are more likely to do well in school, make friends easily and respond to instruction and correction in positive ways.

Of concern to every parent is the behavior of their children.  What is a parents greatest tool in guiding the behavior of their children?


  1.  My power to parent is found in the strength of attachment.
  • Of concern to every parent is the behavior of their children.  
  • A parent’s ability to influence the behavior, attitudes and values of their child is directly related to the strength of the emotional bond.  The more connected I am to my child at an emotional level, the greater the likelihood that they will listen to me, respect me and want to follow my lead.  
  • When we have no relationship with our children, parents are left with resorting to power and control, reward punishment, and threat and fear to attempt to get their child to comply.  
  • I get phone calls from parents when they hit a wall and reach a crisis point with their child.  The story is usually pretty familiar.  Their child has become non-compliant and disrespectful.   Parents are usually surprised when the first thing I say is, “Tell me about the relationship that you have with your child.  How connected are you?  What do you enjoy doing together? What makes them laugh?  What makes them afraid? When was the last time you enjoyed doing something together?”  


  • I was talking with a lovely couple about their 17-year-old daughter one evening.  She was staying out past curfew—even sneaking out a few times.  Her language was changing, her manner of dress was different and she was less invested in school.   I know what they were wanting from me—they wanted me to give them the magic formula for fixing their kid and changing her behavior.  Instead I directed them to evaluate where they were at the moment in their relationship with their daughter and how strongly connected they felt with her.  Both parents got very quiet for a few moments but then quietly began to recount the subtle pulling away from their daughter over the last year.  As her behavior became less compliant and harder to manage they realized the small ways that they began to distance themselves.  Dad was no longer stopping by her room at night chat about the day.  Mom realized it had been months since they had breakfast together at Starbucks—something that they had enjoyed through the years.  It had been a long time since they had gone shopping together.  They came to the realization that they had pulled away as much as she had.   
  • It’s kind of like putting money in the bank.  When we spend meaningful time with our children connecting on an emotional level we put deposits in our child’s emotional bank account.  When we meet the needs of our children with love and respect, we earn the right to speak truth into their lives have influence.  

What benefit does having a healthy attachment provide to children and adults?

Children who enjoy a healthy attachment with at least one parent have a “secure base” from which to venture out into the world.  

  • The relationship acts as a fueling station so to speak, giving a child the needed emotional resources to approach the world with optimism and confidence.
  • They aren’t afraid to try new things and test their limits.  They know that when they need reassurance, encouragement and support, they can approach their attachment figure for the refueling that they need.  When their “tank” is filled they are able to go back out to explore and learn.
  • Mental health experts indicate that the loss of a secure base is perhaps the most devastating thing that can happen to a child.  When children sense danger, threat, uncertainty and fear their biological instinct is to turn to their attachment figures for safety and comfort.  They are like a heat seeking missile looking for a safe haven.  But when the people who are their secure base are not there it is psychological poison.
  • Securely attached children have an enormous advantage when they enter formal schooling.  They are able to invest their energies in learning rather than merely coping.  They have an “I can do it” approach to classroom life that allows them to be fully invested in learning.  

How does attachment give us a healthy view of ourselves?

It is in the attachment relationship that we develop what we call “self awareness.”  We will then approach life and all other relationships accordingly.  

  • We all at some level feel about ourselves how our earliest caregivers felt about us.  If we were loved and cherished by our parents, we come to view ourselves of loveable and worthy of care.  If our earliest caregivers were indifferent to our needs we come to see ourselves as somehow flawed and unlovable.  
  • How we love ourselves and love others, or not, is profoundly influenced by how we were loved as a child.   

What happens when children don’t form secure attachments?



Attachment is: a strong and enduring bond between a child and an adult who assumes responsibility for the well being of that child.  

It’s the foundation of mental health and a pattern for relationships in the future.

Power to parent is in the strength of the attachment.

We all, at some level, feel about ourselves how our earliest caregivers felt about us.

Take some time to reflect on your own childhood and whether or not a secure attachment was established.

Order my new book, Nurturing Healthy Attachment!

Pre-Order here

Pre-Order on Amazon Kindle

Podcast #4: 

The way we view our children has a profound impact on how we parent  – and respond to our children.

This episode begins to expose some popular views our culture holds of children, which can be extremely detrimental.

We discuss the lies – and then share the truth – about children that can change the way you view parenting!

Listen here: Click here to open in new window

OR – Listen and subscribe in  iTunes  or  Stitcher

Here’s our printable  Nurture Notes PDF:  Nurture Notes 4 – Dr. Barbara Sorrels

Please share this post with your friends!


Krista and Dr. Barbara


The way in which we perceive, or place value on, something determines how we care for it – or not.
Example: finding a ring on the ground. It might be a trinket, or something of value, depending on who it belongs to. Who it belongs to gives it value. Our children belong to God which makes them extremely valuable.


Let’s first lay a foundation of truth as to how God sees children, so that we can point out the lies in our culture at large – and specifically within Christian culture.


How does God view children?


Very Good- Genesis 1:31-In creation God called humans very good whereas all the rest of creation was just good. Even when He knew we had the capacity to sin. God recognizes their goodness. 


Hebrew culture valued children. Festivals and traditions were designed to pass on their faith in a way children could understand.


A gift – Psalm 127:4-5: Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.


Formed by God- Psalm 139: For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your words, And my soul knows it very well.


Known by God and set apart- Jeremiah 1:5: Before I created you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart.


Matthew 18:3: Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.


Matthew 18:10: See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.


Beware modern society – even popular Christian culture
Just because something is in print does not make it true. We need to use discernment and know the Word of God. Look into the credibility of who you are reading and getting information and advice from.


Often a hint of truth is twisted into something detrimental.


Here are some very harmful lies, as presented by popular Christian authors



Lie Number One:


“Even a child in the womb and coming from the womb is wayward and sinful” (Listen to podcast for reference)
“The child is a sinner. There are things within the heart of the sweetest little baby that , allowed to blossom and grow to fruition will bring about eventual destruction. The rod functions in this context.” 


What is the lie? Children are born fatally flawed and – in a sense – out to get us.


That’s very different than saying that a child is born with a capacity to sin and is born with a will that chooses sin. Never in scripture does God call children wayward.


In scripture God makes it clear that children are a gift and a blessing.


Lie Number Two:
“This tendency toward self-will is the essence of “original sin” which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster”  (Listen to Podcast for reference)


“A child very quickly demonstrates his fallen, depraved nature and reveals himself to be a selfish little beast in manifold ways. As soon as the child begins to express his own self-will (and this occurs early in life) that child needs to receive correction. My wife and I have a general goal of making sure that each of our children has his will broken by the time he reaches the age of one year. To do this, a child must receive correction wen he is a small infant.”


(Can you believe the language used above to describe children? What type of nurture comes from this view?)
What is the lie?
It’s the parent’s job to fix the fatal flaw.


What is the truth?
It’s not our job. It’s God’s job. Only the redemptive work of God can redeem the sin nature of a child. The role of the parent is to demonstrate the grace of God and love the child to Jesus. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. It is our job to love that child as Jesus would.


Lie Number Three:


“A temper tantrum is an absolute rejection of parental authority. Parents should isolate the child (with a promise of consequences) then follow through with chastisement (spanking) after the child settles down.”


Tantrums are a form of challenging behavior that can be eliminated by one or more appropriate spankings. 


Disclaimer- following some of the principles in these popular books can undermine healthy attachment. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned against some of these books.
What is the lie?


Children’s so-called bad behavior is a manifestation of their sinful heart and willful disobedience and must be handled with power, control, and coercion.


What is the truth?


Most of children’s so called bad behavior is often the result of unmet or misunderstood needs. Instruction and correction in the context of unconditional love by a parent who models grace changes the hearts of children- not punishment or harsh discipline.


Parental selfishness and convenience can lead to childrens’ challenging behaviors. Our culture wants parenting to be convenient and easy and all about us.


One of the greatest myths of our culture is that we can have it all. We can have it all but not at the same time.
There are seasons of life. When we choose to have children, we are choosing them over our own aspirations, dreams, and personal goals.


So how does this matter in daily life?
How we view and value our children affects how we care for them.


Infancy: If I view the infant who wakes up in the night as evidence of his flawed character then I will either ignore his needs or respond harshly. If I view the child through the lens of grace and as gift, I will respond with loving compassion and soothe the baby back to sleep no matter how inconvenient loosing sleep is.


Toddler: If I view the “no” of a toddler as an act of willful defiance, I will respond with power and control with the intention of overpowering his will. But if I see the child through the lens of grace and as a gift, I will see his no as a declaration of independence and celebrate his growing autonomy.


This is where understanding child development equips to you be a better parent because you understand the why of behaviors in each stage. I would respond with empathy to his frustration and handle it with gentle redirection rather than harsh discipline or punishment.


Preschooler: If I view the preschooler who whines incessantly as a manipulative child, out to get his own way, then I will begin to feel like a victim myself, and may lash out in irritation and anger.


But if I view the child as someone who doesn’t quite know how to verbalize his discomfort or distress, then I will respond with compassion and help him to find better ways of expressing his needs and discomfort.


School age: If I view the school age child who sulks and balks at doing their homework as a lazy and unmotivated child, then I will respond with disgust and frustration. I may take away privileges, or use coersive strategies such as taking away tv time, friend time, allowance, etc.


But if I see the child’s behavior as an indication of a lack of understanding or feelings of incompetence, then I will respond with support and find the help the child needs to be successful.


Take some time to consider how you view your children and is that view grounded in God’s view of children versus a misguided twisting of truth. Or is it guided by your own convenience rather than a true understanding of the needs of children?


Be encouraged!
Renewing our minds to correct belief about children makes us better parents.